Ofcom reveals millions of families are missing out on cheap broadband - how to apply for social tariff
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A new report by broadcasting regulator Ofcom has revealed millions of low income households are missing out on cheap broadband deals. Ofcom is concerned households are not receiving the right advice when it comes to switching to a social tariff.
The tariffs,which are low-cost broadband deals, are offered to customers on benefits and cost between £10 and £20 a month. The regulator states millions of families could save around £200 a year by switching.
While households making the most out of the deals have quadrupled since January 2022, the majority of people are still missing out on huge savings. Ofcom added one of reasons households are missing out on the deals is due to the fact they didn’t know cheaper options were available.
The cheaper social tariffs allow people in the UK receiving government benefits such as Universal Credit, Pension Credit, Jobseeker’s Allowance and Income Support to pay less for telecoms and internet access.
Current social tariff providers include BT, EE, SMARTY, Community Fibre, NOW, Sky, Virgin Media, KCOM, Hyperoptic, G Network and VOXI. Ofcom is also in talks with other network providers to introduce social tariffs in the mobile and broadband markets.
Instead of a social tariff, TalkTalk offers jobseekers six months of free connectivity through a unique partnership with the DWP.
Around 4.3 million households in the UK could be getting cheaper broadband, according to Ofcom’s report. However, only around 220,000 people - or 5% of households - are currently signed up to the offer.
As the cost of living crisis continues, consumer groups are urging customers to make the most of the cheaper deals and look at the packages available. In addition to the cheaper deals, social tariffs are usually on shorter-term contracts.
They also offer no early exit fees - so households are not tied to the contract if their circumstances change. Ofcom’s affordability tracker shows one in three households in the UK had an issue affording their broadband services.
Lindsey Fussell, Ofcom’s director of network and communication, said: “Hundreds of thousands of customers are now benefitting from the huge savings that can be made from securing a social tariff. But millions are still missing out on superfast speeds for super low prices – with many not aware they even exist.
“We’re urging anyone who thinks they could be eligible for a discount deal to contact their provider today and potentially save hundreds of pounds. Providers should also do much more to help these customers find and access these deals, at a time when these savings could make a massive difference.”
How to change to a social tariff
According to the Ofcom website, households can apply for most tariffs online, or call their provider and ask to switch. If the provider doesn’t offer a social tariff, households can switch to one that does.